A BAKBEH PERIOD OF DRIFT
EVEN the violence and suddenness of the March outbreak and the grave disorder in the body politic of Egypt, of which the prolonged strike of Government officials was only one of the outward symptoms, did not suffice to bring home to the British Government the urgency of coming out into the open with a considered policy. It was not till the middle of May that they were persuaded to break the silence which they had maintained ever since the proclamation of the Protectorate. Even then they made no definite statement of policy. A good deal was said about the " immense responsibility" taken upon themselves by the Egyptian leaders " who had precipitated this unhappy crisis/3 but very little about official blunders and procrastination at home and in Egypt which had equally contributed to precipitate the crisis. An avowal rather than an explanation was vouchsafed of the refusal to allow two members of the Egyptian Government to come to England to confer with British Ministers, and a perfunctory admission was made that during the war there had been " a certain amount of mishandling of difficult native questions by inexperienced officers." Parliament was at any rate definitely informed that Lord Milner would proceed to Egypt at the head of " a strong mission " to inquire into the causes of the recent outbreak and to draw up recommendations which would assist the British Government in
W!re responsible for British policy would do well to remember that it is just as shortsighted to starve Mahomedan as to starve Western education in Egypt, and that El Azhar represents forces which in the present state of Islamic discontent outside as well as inside Egypt we can only continue to ignore at our perilly continue to ignore at our periLther patriots in every Nationalist demonstration, and El Azhar itself has become the chief centre of anti-British agitation. But it would not be fair to attribute the revolt of El Azhar solely to religious or social animosity. It has never felt the pinch of poverty so severely aseither of his successors tooktly, however, it is to be feared, the average El Azhar student carries away with him chiefly a religious arrogance which, rooted in the belief that the world belongs by rights to Islam, resents all forms of progress emanating from Western civilisation and readily translates itself into aggressive fanaticism.